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Mar 21, 2007 11:11 PM

Bad experience at Tezka

Unfortunately, my first meal at Tezka was fabulously painful. The service was so obtrusive and the timing so off, it actually ruined the meal for me. I'm a mellow diner, willing to overlook a lot, so this is saying a bit.

From beginning to end, our service was so hyperattentive it made us nervous. The waiter asked us 3 times if we were ready to order ... as we all still had our noses in the menu. The bread runner interrupted us every 15 minutes throughout the entire meal with an enormous tray of bread, some of which was stale. Two waiters hovered feet from our table, pouncing on plates as we took the last bites. (Yes, I know it's polite to clear dirty plates immediately here - but this was overkill. We didn't need to see waiters staring at us every time we looked up.) We spent half the time interacting with the waiters who had interrupted our conversation than enjoying each other's company.

In other ways, the service was simply poor. We asked our waiter for his recommendations for a light-bodied red wine within a certain price range, and three times he recommended ones that were approx. $15 more expensive despite our reminding him of the price range we were looking for. When we finally got frustrated with that tactic, we asked for some information about a certain group of Riojas and all he would say is that, "They are all the same, they are all Riojas." We asked for the sommelier so he could explain more detal about the wines, but there was not one on staff. The waiter insisted, "But they are all the same; They are made with the same grape." It got to the point where we were laughing because we couldn't believe he would keep repeating this kind of stuff to us when we were asking outright to speak to someone who knew more about the specific wines in question.

There was a lovely hostess who finally came over and gave us some of her ideas on the wine, and was clearly very attentive to how our experience at the restaurant was. Even so, she spent way too much time trying to fawn over us and explain everything. She spent a lot of time convincing us to share two half bottles of wine, and we finally capitulated to get the discussion over with. When it came time for the second bottle, the one she had recommended was out of stock. The replacements they had to offer us were poor subsitutes - two that you can buy here for less than $10 for a full bottle - but we had no choice because she had sold us the first half bottle without checking the second's availability.

The hostess also had to explain almost the entire menu to us in detail because the descriptions are so obtuse. Grass shrimp, tuna bridge, escolar in yellow, venison with black apple, eggs in cider.... over half of the menu descriptions were such cryptic phrases that we finally asked for the English versions to see if they explained things in more detail. (They did, a little.) Still, with no information about preparation methods or ingredients, we needed someone to explain almost every item.

I really don't want to keep complaining, but even the music was distracting. I feel like a restaurant of this caliber should have moved beyond instrumental versions of old Wham! songs.

And, the food. Good. Some things great. But overall, just good. Our tuna bridge (puente de atún) was pretty unflavorful. The camarones césped were good. The terrine de foie was one-note. The lamb with beer sauces was flavorful, as was the capa de camarones salad. The timing was way off, too, with long waits in between courses of the tasting menu. I feel like if nothing else but in the tasting menu, they should have timing down to a T.

Finally, the ambiance. It was dead. We were in a large, brightly lit room all by ourselves, which maybe accounts for the hovering waiters shoving bread in our faces. We *were* there for dinner on a Tuesday night - certainly way off peak for the Zona Rosa restaurants. it's possible that the chef works Sunday lunch and takes Monday and Tuesday off. I would imagine that if you want the best Tezka experience, you are much better off at a lively lunch anytime from 1:30-5. Zona Rosa is a business district, and I imagine they focus attention on lunch.

Off peak or not, the experience should be consistently good even if the restaurant is empty. For the price, I'm not sure how soon I'll give it a second chance.

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  1. Yours is actually the 3rd or 4th report I've either heard or read, all of them reporting similar expereinces to one degree or another. The two things they've all had in common were that there were few, if any, other diners and that they were there at traditional American dinner hours and not comida.

    It would be interesting to hear from someone who has been there during comida to see if the food and service is any different.

    Thanks for taking a hit for the team ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: DiningDiva

      Nope, I wasn't surprised about how empty it was - I knew what I was getting into - but I was surprised at how little the restaurant did to make dinner a pleasant experience. Even just turning the lights down or seating all the guests in the same room would have made it more enjoyable.

      They were traditional Mexican dinner hours tho - our reservation was at 9:30. Zona Rosa simply is not a dinner destination like other neighborhoods.

    2. I just went to Tezka for lunch on a Monday at 3pm. Overall I enjoyed it very much. The service was very attentive, but they weren't grabbing my food away from me before I was done. I tend to zone out the servers at a restaurant like this. I mean, their job is to be attentive and I just concentrate on the food. It was a slow weekday lunch crowd, maybe only 4 other tables with people. The chef came out to speaks to me twice. Once to ask if I wanted the wine tasting menu along with the food tasting menu. Then at the conclusion of the meal he came out to ask how it was. The meal was very good, but not outstanding. They were very accommodating since I don't speak spanish very well. I'd go back.

      1. That's too bad - I've been there several times ( at that hour) and it has been pretty empty, but we didn't have that kind of experience.We thought the service was good, (the waitor did explain all those cryptic dishes) and the food outstanding. The room is rather dreary, though, like a dowdy hotel dining room, although there's nothing offensive, but I've almost never experienced "appropriate" background music in Mexico - at least they don't have the TVs!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Elchilango

          Update: We went to Tezka last night (Thursday, August 9th, around 8:45) and had a wonderful meal! I still think it's the best restaurant in Mexico! The service was not intrusive at all, if slightly unorganized: a few repeat "would you like to order now"s (only two bread refills)and there was no music on at all, thank God. We actually appreciated the casualness, it made us feel more relaxed. It was certainly not like Gueraaven describes, and I went with that report in mind. The food was excellent. Outstanding was an appetizer of wild mushrooms and foie gras: the mushrooms (which are in season here right now) were sauteed, a beautiful seared piece of foie, and a transparent sauce of emulsified egg yolk, very light and subtle. We split it amongst the three of us and it was more than enough, as, of course, it is very rich. Also nice was an ameuse bouche of "gazpacho de almendras" basically, the traditional Spanish ajo blanco, light and fragrant.
          My "ciervo" a wild venison, in "salsa de acietuna negra" was a perfectly done piece of meat, although the sauce was so subtle it was almost lost on me; I still enjoyed it. The Basque concept is to my liking as the food is unpretentious served as Julia Child would have liked, i.e. "natural" looking, no architecture or drizzles. (OK, I think there was a foam something, but we forgave it).
          We ordered the house wine (a Rioja reserva) which is reasonable at $350 pesos and it was excellent, we needn't have gone any higher.
          Desserts, as I have found before, are not so exciting, although you get some little chocolates and goodies for free which are enough.
          The chef, who greeted us was not Bruno Otieza, but a young (and good looking!) Spaniard from the Islas Baleares; unfortunately I did not catch his name.
          So, all in all a fine experience, 3 1/2 stars, and we will go back. Oh and the bill was
          $600 pesos or about US $55 per person. Not bad for all that!

          1. re: Elchilango

            I had a similar experience at Tezca as well. We went @ 9:30 on a Friday night. It wasn't full, but the young chef was there & he was not only approachable but custom made the prix fixe dinner for us, helped with the wine selection, sat with us when we sent him a glass of wine & talked about all sorts of things & then returned for desert and treated us to digestives. We had a great time & found all the food to be be very good with some of it just standout.

            1. re: Elchilango

              good to hear - maybe mine was a reaaaally off night.